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July 24th, 2014

5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment.

- Last Sunday the BDGF and I took a day trip to Kalamazoo, the specific impetus being to attend a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse. All I can say is holy shit you guys, it was better than I could have possibly imagined. The Drafthouse has no concession stands, because they have ninja-trained servers to bring you bottomless sodas and popcorn. Oh, and anything you want from their full bar or even baked to order cookies. With the advent of giant home theaters, this should be the model to get people out of their houses to go to the movies, because it's a game changer of an experience. They also have a strict no cell phone/talking policy that they take very seriously. Just ask Richard Linklater. If the Alamo Drafthouse wants to open one of these in Ann Arbor, please get in touch with me about running it.

- Congratulations America, you have correctly ranked the Star Wars movies in order of their inherent goodness. Minus one star though, for ranking Luke Skywalker as more favorable than Han Solo. Come on vox populi, you're better than that.

- Once someone completes their compulsory education (and arguably even before then) you can't force Shakespeare on them. The sad and somewhat ironic reason I imagine would be most cited is the language. Ironic because the language is the reason to read Shakespeare. Every aspect of his writing borders on perfect, but Christ on a bike the words! This article articulates that quite well. I mean if you can confidently deliver the following, people should swoon:

What a piece of work is a man,
how noble in reason,
how infinite in faculties,
in form and moving how express and admirable;
in action how like an angel,
in apprehension how like a god:
the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals...

- Clearing out the link box: The Hold Steady played Conan (and by the plethora of white pants, clearly just after a stroll on the boardwalk), prep for football season with this heartwarming feature from ESPN about making a cancer patient's dream come true and see every state ranked by its food and drink. Sorry Kadotas, but it's not like you didn't already know.

- Finally, it's the BDGF and I's dream weekend starting tomorrow. Friday marks our triumphant return the Michigan Brewer's Guild Summer Beerfest, where we will sample up to 800 of Michigan's finest craft beers (although probably not all of them, try as we might.) Then we are off to Pittsburgh, PA to see America's sweetheart Jack White III. You may know Mr. White from his latest internet meme: resting bitchface (see also: default Cubs' fan visage). Here's hoping he's in a better mood come Sunday.

Posted 1:34pm
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July 22nd, 2014

Ready... Set... Go!

Ready... Set... Go! is's new weekly trivia game. Sometimes it might be a discreet set of answers, but we aspire to open ended questions that could go on forever, at least theoretically. Our opening salvo in the series demonstrates the principle pretty well, even though it wasn't my idea. - ed.

Yesterday the BDGF and I got the following text from Lifetime Security Council Member Stov:

Followed by the incentive "I bet we can get to at least 50!"

Here's the first fifty we came up with:

Barry Manilow - Mandy
The Rolling Stones - Angie
Elvis Costello - Allison
Fleetwood Mac - Rhiannon
The Beatles - Michelle
Kiss- Beth
Starship - Sara
Steve Winwood - Valerie
Boston - Amanda
Toto - Roseanna
Prarie League - Amy
The Police - Roxanne
The Beatles - Julia
Elvis Costello - Veronica
Dolly Parton - Jolene
Hamilton Leithauser - Alexandra
Suzanne Vega - Luka
The Kinks - Lola
Paul Simon - Cecilia
Weird Al - Yoda
Pearl Jam - Jeremy
Europe - Carrie
Keey Rogers - Lucille
Little Richard - Lucille
The Pixies - Allison
The Who - Athena
Michael Jackson - Ben
The Doors - Gloria
The Allman Bros - Melissa
Laura Brannigan - Gloria
Josh Ritter - Kathleen
Van Morrison - Gloria
Death Cab For Cutie - Cath
Bruce Springsteen - Rosalita
The Dropkick Murphys - Tessie
Nirvana - Polly
The Grateful Dead - Cassidy
Grouplove - Chloe
Concrete Blonde - Joey
Kaiser Chiefs - Ruby
Eminem - Kim
Weezer - Suzanne
The Insomniacs - Amelia
Beck - Ramona
Beck - Debra
Barenaked Ladies - Jane
Jefferson Airplane - Jane
Ben Folds Five - Jane
Ben Folds Five - Emaline
The Grateful Dead - Althea

We fell off a bit after that. For the record (and for those playing along at home or in the comments section), no "Oh Sherry"s nor "Billie Jean"s (although the latter was hotly debated and I was in the minority). I also think songs from musicals should be excluded (unless an artist not from the original cast recording had a hit with it, like Johnny Mathis doing "Maria") but that's me. I like narrow parameters and am a stickler for rules on this sort of thing. So... Ready... Set... Go!

Posted 9:23am
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July 21st, 2014


I'm always ready for a fight. I don't mean this in a boy scout sort of way, where I've practiced martial arts or carry weapons "just in case." I certainly don't mean it in an "I'm always looking for a fight" sort of way, where I get my crew together and we go out looking for trouble. The former are generally creepy and paranoid and the latter are, well they're asshats.

My constant state of readiness revolves around the fact that I'm always right, and no one else is going to see that, so I'm going to have to be ready to convince them. Whether by rational argument or ad hominem attack, my superior intellect will carry the day. Now I know that this is both arrogant and patently ridiculous. It's a terrible, pessimistic way to go through life and one I've struggled with for most of mine. I've learned to mitigate it outwardly (just trust me on this if you’ve only known me for 10 years or so) and inwardly, I've learned to deal. Somewhat. OK it's still a problem.

When my dad passed earlier this year, there was only really one piece of fallout I was worried about. Yes, funerals and grief and all of that rational, human stuff of course, but given the fire and my father being penniless, there was only really one thing to fight over in my mind, and in that mind that thing was my birthright. Something that I had earned and tacitly belonged to me even before Moe Man shuffled off his mortal coil.

In the late 1970s, legendary Michigan football coach Glen E. "Bo" Schembechler gave my dad a football helmet. The specifics of how this came to pass or if it's even true are lost to history, but there's enough family lore and people who knew my dad and went to Michigan football practices with him who have shared their stories that we will call it fact. My dad knew the most storied person in the history of Michigan athletics and one day he gave him a football helmet. Now that the king is dead, long live the king.

For it is only I among the Brubaker offspring that toiled to become a Wolverine. I worked my way through school paying exorbitant tuition. I stayed in Ann Arbor to work at the University and raise my family here so that they too would someday become Wolverines. I did these things to earn my father's love and respect and to give him a feather in his cap. I have earned that helmet. Someday soon when I join Moe Man in the ether, Sid will have earned it and fingers crossed, so on down the proverbial line.

In my fucked up, misanthropic, alcohol addled brain I of course expected push back. Someone in my family or at Moe's work would try to lay claim to my birthright and I would have to fight them for it. I'd have to present my case to the world, even though it should be painfully obvious to anyone that it now belonged to me. This polar vortex of a storm brewed in my head long before dad even passed, and since he did it has frozen my brain with fear and put me in a fighting stance at the ready.

As you probably already guessed, I'm a giant paranoid idiot, no better than some hilljacker in the middle of Oklahoma who thinks Obama is coming to take his guns and impose Sharia law on the nation. To my knowledge, neither of my brothers are remotely interested in the heirloom, and while I still imagine it wasn't easy for my sister to part with it, I asked and she gave it to me. In short, my family is the best and I am the literal worst. Except now, my birthright has returned to Ann Arbor from whence it came, and whatever tiny, infinitesimal part of my dad's legacy that I’m a part of, I now have tangible proof of it. So I am also clearly the best. Saying that, I suppose, is evidence that my brain is still irrevocably broken, but who cares, I have Moe's and Bo's helmet.

I miss you terribly dad. If they have the internet in heaven and you are reading this, it's the advice and example you set that really matter. Don't think I forgot that. I really do love the helmet though, even if it will probably always make me want to cry a little. Go Blue Moe. Say Hail to Bo for me.

Posted 10:01am
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July 18th, 2014

5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment.

- Your TWiIR notes: a new Sloan song, a new Hamilton Leithauser video, and a new song and video from The New Pornographers. You can also tour the Twin Cities with The Hold Steady, who are close personal friends of the BDGF and I.

- Remember when reality TV was called game shows? Remember when panel games made celebrities out of people? The BDGF often accuses me of liking all things "old", to which my general response is yes, it was a simpler, classier time. I mean, I like Billy Eichner but I love Charles Nelson Reilly.

- The DOTA finals are this weekend! Don't feel bad if you have no idea what that is, you're probably just over 30. I'm only in the know because Siddhartha has been talking about nothing but for two weeks. DOTA is a video game and their $10 million ($10 million!) tournament concludes this Sunday. Watching someone play video games may seem dumb to you and I, but Sid literally couldn't be more excited. But first place is $5 million, and if you want evidence of cultural permeation, it's being broadcast on ESPN. I'm super happy for my nerdy offspring that his kind is inheriting the earth. Now please, get off my lawn.

-'s favorite author and erstwhile tbaggervance doppelganger Chuck Klosterman gets interviewed about villains, ethics, and wrangling subjectivity. You shouldn't waste a second of your time reading anything I've ever written until you read everything he has. I am terrible at self-promotion.

- Finally, the BDGF and I have two (two!) trivia wins in the last week. With the littlest on the left coast, we are free to roam the bars of SE Michigan in search of treasure and so far, so good. My only lament is that said treasure isn't enough to live on, so I can't quite my job to become a professional trivia player. I really wish that was a thing. It wouldn't have to sustain me for very long, because let's be honest, my liver wouldn't make it more than a year. Still, what a way to go...

Posted 9:52am
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July 16th, 2014

Happy Birthday to you...

My only begotten son turns 19 today. Nineteen isn't much of a milestone year in terms of rights or responsibilities for most people in the US of A, but for some countries, and specifically the one Siddhartha is heading to in six weeks, 19 confers upon you all the rights and responsibilities of adulthood - which basically means you can drink legally. So cheers and bottoms up and all that Sid. Oh, and for your birthday I fulfilled a promise and made you this shirt:

I wish I could see a half-Filipino get off the plane in Seoul wearing a shirt making fun of Korea with a Vietnamese epitaph. Classic.

- If you aren't a Weird Al fan, why are you even here? He's releasing a video a day from his new album, and the first two are pretty great. Check out "Tacky" and "Word Crimes". The latter is super clever, even if I probably offended it 5 times in this very post.

Posted 9:32am
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July 11th, 2014

5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment.

- Blogging has been spartan to say the least the last few weeks, because it is summah, the season of drinking outside, watching movies outside, being poolside or at the beach, and generally just being out of doors. I don't have a whole lot to report from recent travels outside of deciding that this is a universal truth: it's not vacation if you have to set an alarm to wake up in the morning.

- Clearing out the TWiIR mailbag: New Spoon, new Jetpacks, new King Tuff, new band to watch Adult Jazz, Sleeper Agent on Letterman and Neko Case has a video for her song "These aren't the Droids..." Holla.

- A few weeks back we were at a memorial service and the officiant said something very lovely about the couple "building their own little world together." To which the BDGF's eldest said to me "That's you and my mom!" We do have a zip line in our backyard and a jukebox in our living room, so point taken. I say if we are going to go down this rabbit hole a tad further, we definitely need one of these. amiright?

- It was Moe Man's birthday on Wednesday. We were off seeing The Violent Femmes so I waited until Thursday to try and process it. I'm not even sure what that means, but I'm pretty sure it's what I was doing. I wanted to watch something in his honor last night, and in lieu of watching a Duke western, we ended up watching Goldfinger. I reasonable tribute, but this would have been more appropriate. Go Blue, Moe-sy Woe-sy.

- Finally, austerity is the name of the game on Chandler Rd as we are six scant weeks away from Sid heading to Koreatown and the BDGF's eldest beginning her matriculation. Lucky for us, we have our own outdoor movie theater and a steady flow of alcohol to make evenings at home almost as fun as gallivanting around the midwest to concerts and breweries. Plus, A2 is full of free entertainment, like on Sunday when you can have a ball just by __________-ing.

Posted 10:36am
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July 2nd, 2014

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- One could argue that we are treading dangerous ground when it comes to living in a theocracy. That's alarmist for sure, but what would it look like if the hard-liners got their way? Let's take a look at the most religious states in America and see how they are faring. Maybe it is end times?

- I'm going to guess that the majority of these signs are from those states, but in a nod to fairness and not overstating my case, I am only guessing.

- To put the above in the parlance of Dick Cheney, tis far better to kill people than to feed them. I almost wish there was a hell just so I'd know that he'd end up there.

- As any kid in Beaverton, OR will tell you, the only interesting parts of the Bible are the gory bits.

- For my money, this is the best fucking part of the Bible.

- Finally, as any reading of the current incarnation of the far-right GOP will tell you, the Bible is full of horrible 'wisdom' when it comes to women. SCOTUS is apparently taking its cues from these passages instead of say, the equal protection clause of the constitution. We should all note, however, that there is plenty of good in the good book. At the end of the day, even the dogmatists are picking and choosing.

Posted 10:01am
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July 1st, 2014

5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment.

- Dolly Parton is sometimes an unfortunate punchline because of her down home folksiness and boobs. The truth is that she's unbelievably talented and a national treasure. If for no other reason, she wrote "Jolene". That's really enough, but if you want the pleasure center of your brain to explode, watch her perform a cover of "Yakity Sax". You're welcome.

- #sixseasonsandamovie!

- Yesterday's SCOTUS ruling cements my intuition that I should never, under any circumstances, vote for a Republican until the tenor of the party shifts dramatically - something not likely to happen soon if in my lifetime. I'm pretty sure you can check through the archives and find me on record saying something to the effect of the ruin of George W. Bush's presidency would not be his incompetence nor his legacy of hawkishness, but his stacking of the Court with ideologues of the most hideous bent. Unfortunately being right about that doesn't soften the blow, but for me posting on-the-nose commentary like this somehow does. America!

- Mosquitoes generally don't bother me. Perhaps my BAC is so consistently high that word gets out among the herd and they stay away from my tainted blood. Or maybe it's that I also have some many antihistamines in my system that I don't even notice the bites. Whether it's a real or imagined pseudo-immunity, it's a nice one to have. My progeny isn't so lucky. The bloodsuckers flock to him, and when they do, they leave welts the size of quarters. I feel a little bad about it, but it's probably his mother's DNA that's the problem. Here's some info on that and other general tips for prevention and treatment. Bring on the night!

- Finally, speaking of Siddhartha, we are go for launch of Project: Koreatown 2014. We are calling embassies, getting chest x-rays and providing bank statements. It's going to be an interesting trip down the international rabbit hole before he even sets foot on foreign soil. There are those who assume I have some sort of trepidation or fear about letting my kid go globetrotting at 19, but most see it as an unbelievable opportunity. To the former I say that I trust him, and him successfully navigating this is a validation of me doing something right by preparing him. If anyone can handle this, it's Sid. To the latter, I say you're right. I'm incredibly proud that he's taking the opportunity and happy that his mother and I are in a position to help him take it. I guess what I'm saying is good for me.

Posted 10:49am
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